Over the past two weeks there has been a toxic bath of sludge brewing in the liberal left media. While cancel culture has been having a field day, pockets of the traditionally left media have taken time to examine how the establishment as a whole (liberal media establishment) has misreported, misidentified, covered up, ignored, and slowly begun to institute police state style pressure on journalists within their own ranks. One of these reporters who has called them out on it is a man by the name of Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone fame. His biggest critic in refuting his argument is one Nathan Robinson, editor of Current Affairs. What this minor kerfuffle between the two men has shown is actually the exact thing that Taibbi has been arguing for a couple of years now: the liberal left leaning press has devolved into a he said / she said, my argument is right, yours is wrong so get on board or be exterminated ideologically, Hannity and Combs brand of hate filled ire towards anything that doesn’t support a larger hegemonic narrative the millennial “socialists” are trying to shovel.
Once upon a time, a Gen-X – Hunter S. Thompson loving reporter wrote an article called, “The American Press is Destroying Itself.” The article, published independently, got some liberal panties in a wad, and one of the loudest liberal Millennial voices responded with rhetorical tricks to denounce the author and his take on the current state of the liberal national media. What has occurred since the publication of both articles has been an inundation of largely hipster-light Millennial intellects crying foul over the Gen-Xer’s dared accusation that they play unfairly in the sandbox.
Taibbi’s article points criticism at the left for how they have recently handled themselves in the immediate response to George Floyd’s murder. At a point in our history where division is more obvious than ever, cultural latency in solving centuries old socially egregious actions have been forced to the forefront of our national conversation, and calls to unite us all in a shared experience to solve these issues, the political factions within our press have chosen to instead double down on their ideological stances and use them to separate out the dissenting voices within their respective caucus. Taibbi’s flashlight points to the liberal side of this shared narrative, and lists (like a rap sheet) different instances where cancel culture has taken some actions too far. There are issues with the examples he uses in that he does not go into full detail with all of them which is a typical ploy by any self-respecting journalist who is trying to sell an argument. The overall message that the examples used present, however, is that the larger left media machine is failing. The only way to defend this action by the liberal machine is to self-examine, find the cause of their failure, and adjust their practices accordingly. That’s called improvement.
Instead, the machine has done the opposite: they are doubling down and refusing to admit there is a serious problem with their politically correct view of the world and that the answer is not cancel, cancel, cancel. Nathan Robinson’s rebuttal to Mr. Taibbi is a wonderful lesson in how to passively cancel with a intellectually elite smile. Mr. Robinson dives into specifics of Mr. Taibbi’s argument to poke holes in the validity of claim, which is textbook debate – kudos. Mr. Robinson also examines the claims from Mr. Taibbi’s point of view before refuting them with linked evidence to back up his own claim. Well done, sir. Well done.
But where Mr. Robinson trips over his own words is how he subtly drops the “C” word – no, you dirty minded silly, not that word – by aligning Mr. Taibbi’s argument as a conservative argument. And there lies the spin and the exact proof of Mr. Taibbi’s own argument.
What Mr. Robinson focuses on is how Taibbi is presenting a conservative angle to his leveling of accusations against the left. Once he has done so, the reader will subliminally associate Mr. Taibbi with the right and in their Millennial minded victimhood, they will mark Mr. Taibbi as one of the “bad” ones who align themselves with Tucker Carlson and the KKK Nazi corporate capitalist scum of 5th Avenue and Birmingham, Alabama. Mr. Robinson knows this, and that is why he does it. Twitter will do the rest of the work for him. How can you tell that he knows this? Because he notably leaves out Mr. Taibbi’s most liberal of credentials: Taibbi’s extensive work on the problem of Police brutality and his book I Can’t Breathe which investigates the Eric Garner murder. Which leads one to wonder: can a key stroke conservative be against police brutality, or do we just ignore Mr. Taibbi’s past contributions, or do we focus on one article and cancel him because he called the liberal establishment out, or…
In another article by Mr. Robinson, he responds to a rebuttal to his own work by Krystal Ball of the show Rising. Mrs. Ball too is a millennial liberal who is calling for the neo-liberals (I just can’t keep up with the labels any more) to cushion their stance against what she and her co-host Saagar call the “progressive-right.” Mr. Robinson, in this piece, does NOT paint Ball as a conservative as he does with Taibbi. Instead, he goes after the notion that serving the right with any kind of respect is outrageous, even if he will grant his precious time to “debating” them. By noting this, he again curves his audience away from the overall message that Ball and her co-host are trying to make by throwing in the fact that The Hill (who owns and broadcasts the show) is owned by a friend of Mr. Trump. Yes, that Trump.
Heaven help us.
He also goes after Mr. Saagar for pointing out that Tucker Carlson represents something that the press is ignoring – the same thing they ignore when it comes to Jordan Peterson – which is that Tucker Carlson has the #1 show on cable news right now. Yes, he is beating Maddow and Hannity. But instead of asking the obvious question of why the public is turning to Mr. Carlson, he just discredits Mr. Saagar by noting how Tucker is a racist. And scene.
This is exactly what Mr. Taibbi is arguing, and Mr. Robinson, in two different articles, proves him exactly right.
The left has a huge problem right now. That problem is that they refuse to recognize there is a problem. It’s like we are watching an alcoholic reaching the end of his drinking days. The left is going to hit bottom at some point, and when it does, it will have to ask itself if it needs to rehab or will it allow itself to die? I pointed to the generation gap between the two journalists – my point in doing that was to simply point out the wonderful visionary sight of the youthful Robinson vs the life experience of Mr. Taibbi. While Mr. Robinson is an excellent writer, what he is doing is playing with a fire he doesn’t fully understand yet. Mr. Taibbi, however, through his years and observations can see the obvious risks in this and is trying to keep an inferno from consuming all of the ideological wonders the left has always championed.
But to be honest, what Mr. Robinson really needs to do is to look at Tucker Carlson and ask the simple question: why are so many more people listening to him and not Nathan Robinson?